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eSwag39

THE GARDENS OF STONE

Posted on May 13, 2013 by
Raymond
on the road at

 

 

 

I will be leading walk in the Blue Mountains Wilderness this weekend in an area not too far from the magnificent Gardens of Stone about which I write in my book. Today's blog is an excerpt that chapter: THE GARDENS OF STONE

'Sandstone pagodas rise like massive mushrooms from the plateau. In between them are secret little groves of rock orchids, moss and ferns living lives of quiet dignity in their remote sanctuaries. Very occasionally they are disturbed, usually by friends of mine, who have walked this country most of their adult lives. I know most of them but Michael Cartier and Michael Jackson (yes, that’s his name) are good mates. They disappear into the remote Gardens of Stone and the 500,000 hectare Wollemi Wilderness that neighbours it, squeezing through rock holes, dropping from dissected plateaus into gorges, tracking Aboriginal occupation sites. 

Their team of bushwalkers and academics has been responsible for major finds in this wilderness. They are guided in their research by Google Earth, seeking suitable landforms from outer space. On sandstone ledges they find ancient engravings, while rock art survives in the shelters and overhangs. In 1995 a group of them found Eagles Cave, which holds 200 paintings dating back to 2000BC. Two years earlier another bushwalker, David Noble, found the Jurassic-era Wollemi pine, a plant thought to have been extinct for 150 million years. The Wollemi nobilis, part of the 200 million year old Araucariaceae family, having existed alongside the dinosaurs, is now available in a nursery near you. Turns out they propagate extremely easily, a genetic blueprint designed to adapt for life over the long haul. It even has its own website. 

In 2006 three groups of bushwalkers and archaeologists were dropped off by helicopter in the Wollemi National Park. Michael Cartier’s party found an extensive cave art network, but the mother lode, discovered by archaeologist Matthew Kelleher and Michael Jackson, was extraordinary. On an enormous slab of sandstone 100 metres long and 50metres wide, like an Aztec platform or Mt Olympus, was Gallery Rock, covered with carvings and drawings. All of the most powerful ancestral beings are here: the supreme spirit Baiame, his son Daramulan, another forty two figurative motifs, ancestral emu women and men, as well as an evil child-eating spirit with a club foot, a spectrum of the most powerful spirits of the Aboriginal universe and all assembled in this pantheon of Gods. Hold in your mind that this place exists: now, alone, exposed to the sky and the wind, to the rain and lightning, to animals and the occasional adventurer, an expression of whatever it is in the minds of mortals that seeks to link the forces of nature with the struggle of human beings. On a giant rock in the wilderness that borders the town of Lithgow, with its car yards, smoke stacks and prison, lies a barely known and pure expression of the human soul.'

Excerpt from The Electronic Swagman - A Man, a Dog, the Road and a lot of Dead People.

 

Comments
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Davina Couldridge
Reply
fascinating, off to look up the tree
Raymond
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It is an amazing place that is almost completely unknown. I could live amongst the caves I think. Actually, thats not a bad idea. 
Susan Portz
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Wow. Just wow. Boy, I sure hope I get to Australia one day.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Susan - I am running a trip called Journey to the Heart in Aug/September next year that follows the itinerary in my book almost exactly. Reckon it has your name written all over it. Stay tuned. 
tersia du toit
Reply
A rivetting read! Thank you so much. Particularly that POW! final image of ancients worshipping at the rock of the gods against modern careless noise and pollution. No, I don't have the words to express the image YOUR words evoked. Thank you
jacinta hickey
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wow,that would be an amazing place to walk and explore.As the saying goes in that movie Picnic at Hanging Rock,Michael come back,instead of Miranda!! Enjoy the walk Raymond.
Maria
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There is just so much history in the Blue Mountains and this area sounds so interesting. While you are walking in the Gardens of Stone National Park I will be walking not too far away in Lawson checking out the waterfalls. Weather check done and it's going to be a cracker of a weekend.
norma
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Absolutely fascinating . . . thanks for sharing all this descriptive info
Raymond
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If you truly enjoy this type of information I recommend the book.
patricia lang
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You have a wonderful way with words Raymond, anxiously awaiting the arrival of your book. I have been watching a fascinating documentary "Australia" which traces the history since the beginning of "dreamtime".
Raymond
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Hi Patricia - should arrive soon. Its been im the post for a week or so now. Please let me know when it arrives. 
patricia lang
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The book arrived today, can't wait to plough into it! I would have loved to join one of your walking tours unfortunately bad back & hip won't allow so have to settle on seeing it all vicariously through your eyes & story telling.
Eileen Boyle
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That is the Australia I would love to see! Maybe one day........ And I think I am going to have to treat myself to your book for my birthday next month!
Raymond
Reply
The book takes people into a new level of this journey. It is, I hope, a journey in itelf. 
Marg
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The caves sound extraordinary. I am savouring your book at the moment and look forward to retracing your steps, a bit at a time.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Marg - I hope you enjoy the journey. I am thinking of running a trip next years that traces the exact route over 3 weeks. A blogging, photographing and walking trip into that country.